Our opinion: Beating the clock

Pennsylvania government, and the state General Assembly in particular, does not perform well on a tight deadline.

And, a tight deadline is exactly what faces the legislature in the last three days of the session.

Some of Gov. Tom Corbett’s Republican troops are out of step, their cadence having been thrown off by legitimate concerns about some of the items on his to-do list. Hence, on Thursday, House and Senate leaders were huddled behind closed doors with the governor – a favorite place for forging public policy and making deals – looking for ways to salvage the program.

At stake are three big ones: privatizing wine and liquor sales and tinkering with beer sales; changing the state’s public employee pension system because previous governors and legislators lacked foresight; and, providing a massive increase in transportation funding (and finding a way to pay for it without using the word “tax”).

Democrats, the fairly ineffective minority in the capitol, are virtually unanimous in opposition to most of this stuff, but because of their minority status are reduced to little more than frustrated observers.

The battleground is within the Republican party, and one imagines the governor telling the GOP leadership, “Look, we can do this if you just get your people on board. And, you have to do it by midnight on Sunday.”

Looming deadlines are not an ideal environment for the thoughtful consideration of broad changes in public policy, and there are some broad changes included in that menu of tasks the governor has given the legislature.

Remember, it was that get-it-done-at-all-costs urgency among Republicans that gave Pennsylvania a Voter ID law just in time for the November 2012 election, only to have it be nullified by the courts for that contest. And, it’s still in litigation.